Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 30 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 30, No. 2
Pages 150 - 159


Project Recover: Extending the Applications of Unmanned Platforms and Autonomy to Support Underwater MIA Searches

Eric J. Terrill Mark A. Moline Patrick J. ScannonEric GallimoreTravis SchramekAndy Nager Robert HessMegan Cimino Patrick L. Colin Andrew PietruszkaMark R. Anderson
Jump to
Article Abstract Citation References Copyright & Usage
Article Abstract

An estimated 70,000 US servicemen remain missing from World War II, with approximately two-thirds of those losses from the Pacific Theater. Many of the missing were lost in the maritime environment. Historically, attempts to locate remains in this environment were deemed too difficult, as water-based searches can be labor intensive, logistically cumbersome, and technically difficult to execute. Ironically, despite these challenges, underwater sites are often better preserved than terrestrial sites, as they are less subject to human disturbance and negative environmental conditions. Technological advances in unmanned platforms, autonomy, sensors, underwater navigation and communications, forensic oceanography, search methodologies, and data processing are now enabling the discovery of crash sites associated with losses and stimulating new research that combines oceanography, unmanned systems, historical research, and forensic archaeological methods. Project Recover began as a two-year program funded by the US Office of Naval Research, designed to serve as a testbed for unmanned technologies and public outreach. Now, through public and private sponsorship, it has grown into providing a global survey capability.


Terrill, E.J., M.A. Moline, P.J. Scannon, E. Gallimore, T. Schramek, A. Nager­, R. Hess, M. Cimino, P.L. Colin, A. Pietruszka, and M.R. Anderson. 2017. Project Recover: Extending the applications of unmanned platforms and autonomy to support underwater MIA searches. Oceanography 30(2):150–159, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.2017.237.


Allen, B., T. Austin, N. Forrester, R. Goldsborough, M. Purcell, and C. von Alt. 1997. REMUS: A small, low cost AUV; System description, field trials and performance results. Pp. 994–1,000 in OCEANS ‘97. MTS/IEEE Conference Proceedings, Halifax, NS, October 6–9, 1997, https://doi.org/​10.1109/OCEANS.1997.624126.

Davey, S., N. Gordon, I. Holland, M. Rutten, and J. Williams. 2016. Bayesian Methods in the Search for MH370. Springer, 114 pp.

Moline, M.A., S.M. Blackwell, C. Von Alt, B. Allen, T. Austin, J. Case, N. Forrester, R. Goldsborough, M. Purcell, and R. Stokey. 2005. Remote Environmental Monitoring Units: An autonomous vehicle for characterizing coastal environments. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 22:1,797–1,808, https://doi.org/10.1175/JTECH1809.1.

Pietruszka, A. 2014. Forensic archaeology underwater: JPAC’s inventory, investigation, and recovery of US casualties of war from submerged sites. Pp. 453–461 in Forensic Archaeology: A Global Perspective. W.J. Groen, N. Márquez-Grant, and R. Janaway, eds, Wiley-Blackwell, https://doi.org/​10.1002/9781118745977.ch51.

Roscoe, T. 1949. United States Submarine Operations in World War II, 1st ed. US Naval Institute Press, 581 pp.

Stone, L.D., C.M. Keller, T.M. Kratzke, and J.P. Strumpfer. 2014. Search for the wreckage of Air France Flight AF 447. Statistical Science 29(1)69–80, https://doi.org/10.1214/​13-STS420.

von Alt, C., B. Allen, T. Austin, N. Forrester, R. Goldsborough, M. Purcell, and R. Stokey. 2001. Hunting for mines with REMUS: A high performance, affordable, free swimming underwater robot. Pp. 117–122 in MTS/IEEE Oceans 2001: An Ocean Odyssey. Conference Proceedings, Honolulu, Hawaii, November 5–8, 2001,

Wilcox, T.E., and B. Fletcher. 2003. High frequency side scan sonar for target reacquisition and identification. Pp.1,882–1,887 in Oceans 2003: Celebrating the Past…Teaming Toward the Future. San Diego, California, September 22–26, 2003, https://doi.org/10.1109/OCEANS.2003.178175.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.